The Vertical Migration of Antarctic Krill and the Blue Whale by Susan Hoenig, 2014, acrylic painting
Art Exploring Essential Links in the Oceanic Food Web:
The Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is a keystone species in the Southern Ocean ecosystem where it makes up a large percentage of the Earth’s biomass. Krill are the main consumers of phytoplankton to sustain their open ocean cycle, primarily using the energy that phytoplankton derives from sunlight. The Antarctic krill connect the microscopic primary producers, which they eat, to the top predators, the Blue Whale which eat them (about four tons of krill each day!) This unique oceanic food chain is very vulnerable. A small disruption could drastically affect the entire ecosystem. Melting sea ice will create cascading effects. The atmospheric CO2 levels, as carbon is captured by the plankton at the surface, is then released by the krill deep within the ocean. The ecological impact of the krill’s vertical migration is significant.